An Interview with Mo Farah
Mo Farah Interview
Medium distance British talent Mo Farah eyes up Olympic glory…
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past seven years, you will be aware that all eyes are firmly fixed on London this year as the capital plays host to the greatest show on earth – the Olympic Games. But as the nation prepares to fix its eyes on the once in a lifetime sporting extravaganza, for the home grown athletes competing the prospect of career defining and life changing moments grow ever nearer. Few will be feeling that more keenly than Mo Farah.
Ask any athletics fan, even the more casual ones, and they will tell you that Farah ranks among Britain’s best hopes of gold medal success come August: after all, Farah is the current 5,000m world champion and currently holds a whole host of records, including the European track record for 10,000m and the British indoor record for 3,000m. Now living in America in Portland, 29-year-old Farah’s mind is completely focused on the prize.
“The training is going well,” Farah confirms. “I’ve just come back from high altitude training in Kenya and the other athletes and I there are doing broker training together, which is going well. “I’ve not done anything different to what I have done over the last couple of years – I always train with Kenyans. I used to train at St. Martins College and it was there I saw some Kenyan athletes doing their thing, which was very different to what I was doing. I was still into going out, having a good time, but they would be in bed by 8pm. I ended up moving in with them, just learning things from them. It really helped me improve; it was exactly what I needed.”
“I’d never done any running in Africa”
To use running parlance, the Olympic build-up is reaching the home straight, so is Farah feeling the pressure as one of Britain’s best hopes? “I wouldn’t say that there’s any extra pressure,” Mo says “except for the pressure you put on yourself. You’ve just got to be strong and do everything that you can. I’m definitely looking forward to it, but you just have to try not to put that pressure on yourself.”
Farah’s story is an uplifting one that is in tune with the Olympic spirit. Born in Somalia, he moved from Mogadishu to London aged eight able to speak only the most basic English. “I could say ‘excuse me’ and ‘where is the toilet?’” he says “which made it hard, but my cousin was in the same class so I got through it.” Yet despite that tough start, it was actually at school that Farah’s talents were spotted. More interested in football (“I only wanted to play on the wing for Arsenal when I was at school”), his PE teacher Alan Watkinson nevertheless encouraged Farah to take up running after being impressed with the potential he displayed at Feltham Community College.
“I’d never done any running in Africa, even though I lived there until I was eight, so I didn’t even think about doing it before.” Soon, though, his potential began to become realised. He won five school titles and made a major breakthrough by winning the 5000m at the European Athletics Junior Championships in 2001.
“I had to regroup from that setback”
Farah’s career since turning senior in 2005 has had its share of disappointments as well as glory, with his performance in the Beijing Olympics in 2008 a huge letdown. “I had to regroup from that setback – really reassess and come back stronger. And to be fair, I’ve done just that.” Farah has upped his game considerably, with 2011 his most successful year to date, culminating in two medals at the World Championships – silver in the 10,000m and gold in the 5,000m. How would Farah rank his chances of Olympic glory?
It will be difficult, of course. The biggest rivals are the Kenyans and the other Europeans, and I’ve just got to do everything I can. I’m not going to make any predictions. I am desperate to make it onto the world stage but I can’t say how it will go. It’s a long way from scaring deer in Richmond Park where I used to train!”
But even away from his own medal hopes, Farah appreciates the opportunity hosting the Olympic Games gives London and the country at large, and is looking forward to what should be an incredible experience. “Yeah, it’s going to be amazing. To have the Olympics right on your doorstep is absolutely amazing. But you’ve got to take that advantage of having the home crowd along with you. I’m definitely looking forward to it, and I don’t want to have any regrets.”
Mo Farah is fuelled by Lucozade helping him go Faster. Stronger. For Longer. Check out Mo in action at www.youtube.com/lucozade